Telematics firm gets on the road with the Prime Minister

X The Business Desk

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TELEMATICS firm The Floow has had one fast-paced year, aiming for record turnover and cracking new markets, as well as being invited on a trade mission with the Prime Minister.

The firm is expecting to exceed £4m in turnover after only launching in 2012, and is looking at new ways of using the data they collect as a telematics firm in other areas, while the insurance sector is booming.

Innovation leader Sam Chapman has helped orchestrate a project in partnership with the European Space Agency and the University of Sheffield, pushing the firm forward at 100 mph. 

Chief executive and co-founder of The Floow Aldo Monteforte was invited on Prime Minister David Cameron’s trade mission to Asia this week as the firm looks to expand there.

The Prime Minister said of The Floow’s presence on the trade mission: “Companies like The Floow are flying the flag and unlocking the economic potential of the fast growing economies of Southeast Asia for Yorkshire.

“I am delighted that they have joined me on my first trade mission of this government and I hope that we can work together to create jobs and growth for the UK.”

David James, The Floow’s chief operations officer spoke to about the future of the business and the importance of The Floow’s presence on the government’s trade mission. He said: “We have started exploring China as a market and we were looking at other places in Asia. We’ve been working closely with UKTI and they recognised us as a technology-based company that has had great growth, with global reach. It’s amazing, this has all happened within 10 days.

“As a Yorkshire based company, it’s been an important profile. 18 months ago we employed 10 people, now we’re nearly at 50. We want Sheffield to be a hub, and a centre of excellence, so anything that profiles us as a region is really important.

“It’s about letting people in the wider world know there is a really commercial and economic world outside of London, and places like Sheffield, as well as Leeds and Manchester have great resources and people.

“We recruit such high quality people. We have created sustainable, high quality jobs in Sheffield, that’s economically fundamental to the development of the country.”

They certainly have done their part in putting Sheffield on the map. The Floow have a presence from Scandinavia to the Americas.

The Floow announced a partnership with RSA Group’s Scandinavian arm this year, Codan and already operates in Ireland and the US, and is looking to expand its international credentials.

Innovation leader Sam Chapman, who helped found The Floow, is pioneering efforts to expands its reach beyond telematics in the traditional sense, and is using them instead to combat pollution.

He said: “As innovation leader we come up with ways to reuse the data that The Floow are gathering and use it in other markets such as pollution, improving road networks, traffic timings, safety levels and local authorities on building works.

“We can explore all these things from data we gather though they are in the early stages compared to insurance section, and though this part of the business in its infancy, the importance of our work has been recognised by the European Space Agency.

“What we gather informs a lot about nature of UK roads, we can gain enough knowledge so we can apply globally and expand from small trials we’re doing at the moment.

Thousands of people die every year from the effects of pollution according to The Floow, and their efforts to utilise data in innovative ways have helped in the firm’s hometown, which also acts as a guinea

“There are pollution hotspots and the number in Sheffield is particularly bad. If people are working within these environments, they will be suffering degradation of health, reduced life spans, there’s a lot of impact. We’re trying to use what we know in a responsible way.

“The aim is to save lives and inform what’s going on with pollution.”

The Floow are becoming experts in air quality in the UK and Europe, as a unique and more detailed data source than even Defra. Mr Chapman said that to be in line with EU regulations on air pollution, the UK needs to clean up its act, and would likely be in breach of European targets by Christmas, leading to billions in fines.

“There’s a lot of concern there that people aren’t solving the problem.” said Mr Chapman. “This is compounded with financial concerns in governments. The main thing that could be done to address this is to understand problem better. If you look closely, there’s a way you can mitigate it.”

There is some light at the end of the tunnel though, and devolution may be the way forward in terms of dealing with air pollution. Mr Chapman said: “Devolution to local government’s will mean we will have the power to look at this issue on a local level and be more realistic about air quality and how to deal with it.”